Version Tested: PC
Also available on: Mac, XBox 360, XBox One, PS3, PS4, iOS, Android
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Genre: Episodic Adventure
Spoiler Alert: I won’t reveal much from the main story here, other than perhaps a few character names and vague plot points. I would not recommend reading this if you have not yet finished the first two episodes of the game. Unless you don’t care. In that case, read away.
All of the episodic adventures from Telltale Games follow pretty similar patterns: choose some dialogue options that most likely have no real effect on the story, occasionally hit some arrows or click on some fast moving objects, and hammer ‘Q’ on occasion. Tales from the Borderlands does not reinvent the wheel, but the newest episode, entitled “Catch a Ride,” continues a great winning streak that further solidifies this game as the best of Telltale’s episodic games.
In my previous review of Episodes 1 and 2, I stated that this was my favorite of all of Telltale’s episodic games to date. This episode is the best episode of the game so far. All of the characters make serious strides as they evolve in the story, and the handful of new characters, especially Vallory and a new little robot friend, steal the show with some hilarious moments. Once again, the dialogue is smart, snappy, and seriously funny.
Tales from the Borderlands is a game that can make you laugh out loud. There are plenty of callbacks to previous scenarios and ridiculous situations (of course I yelled “Enhance!” the first chance the game gave me). This is the only Telltale game that I have replayed the same parts multiple times with new dialogue options, just so I could see what other jokes the writers came up with. Every other game in this style I have only cared about my version of the story. In Wolf Among Us, I never wanted to go back and see how the story changed if I made Bigby nicer, because that was not my version of the story. With Tales from the Borderlands, I want to see what happens if I play Fiona as a shoot-first gunslinger just as much as if I play her as a “only use violence as a last resort” con artist. The writing is snappy and funny in almost every scenario, with very few jokes falling flat or repeating for the sake of laziness.
However, it is not just a game about jokes. Tales from the Borderlands completely captures the vibe of Pandora, which is the setting for the Borderlands series. It is a scary place, filled with monsters, guns, and complete psychopaths. The particularly menacing Vallory stands out in this episode as an example of the constant “You are about to be killed” attitude of the Borderlands universe. There are several moments of stress and danger, including a harrowing finale that saw all notable characters make rash decisions and take action against a very serious threat. The world is just dangerous and unpredictable enough to not feel safe for my main characters and their friends. And I do not know what I would do with myself if Loader Bot doesn’t make it through to the end of this game.
I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that this game does not immerse you in the story as much as other Telltale games. Even though I want to see all the dialogue options the game has to offer, I still care just as much, if not more, about this band of misfits than any other group of characters I’ve seen in an adventure game. Rhys and Fiona bumble their way through every situation, constantly thinking they are smarter, more skilled, and generally more badass than everyone else in any given situation. You wind up rooting for them because they seem like underdogs in a situation where the underdog is fodder for these over the top personalities. Pandora is a world ruled over by Vault Hunters, and villains like Handsome Jack. Rhys, the corporate tool whose most recent title at Hyperion was “Assistant Vice Janitor,” and Fiona, who screams at computers to “Enhance” probably because she has seen it on TV, have no business on this world that belongs to the cutthroats. You just want to see these two succeed and make something of themselves and their friends.
In most games, the main character starts out as an underdog before becoming, ultimately, a god by story’s end. Even though these characters are growing emotionally, they are not “levelling up” towards ultimate abilities. It will be interesting to see where Telltale takes these characters in the final two episodes of the series. There is still a strong sense of mystery as well: What is happening with the frame story? The entire adventure that you are playing through is being told back to a mysterious third party who has captured Rhys and Fiona. Why are they dressed the way they are? Why do they seem to hate each other so much? And could they just be lying about the whole thing?
Other questions continue to pop up as well, such as what is happening between Jack and Rhys, or whether Loader Bot is simply the best.
This game has seriously got its hooks sunk in, and I cannot wait for Telltale to drop another episode. If you have played and enjoyed other Telltale games, I cannot recommend this one enough. If you’re thinking about giving one a try, this is a great place to start. The great writing, interesting characters, and unique art style combine to make a truly entertaining package. Check it out.
- Laugh-out-loud funny writing
- Interesting characters and setting
- Fun visual style
- Great voice work
- Nothing new added to the standard Telltale formula
Is this your favorite of Telltale’s adventure games? Or does another one pull you in more? Let us know in the comments below.